Dobrá Voda Elementary School and Kindergarten
Status: State Primary School and Kindergarten
Interviewee: Mgr. Lenka Scheinpflugová, school principal
Country: Czech Republic
In your role as a principal, do you encounter any challenges linked to the diminishing work capacity of teachers within your school?
The work capability of elementary school teachers is closely tied to ongoing professional development. I firmly believe that a young teacher who completes their studies cannot carry out the same tasks for the next three decades. In our school, we have established in-service teacher development plans, wherein each teacher outlines their individual training objectives. As the headteacher, I naturally oversee and align these plans with the school's strategic framework.
We also address matters pertaining to work ability, such as the integration of new methods and approaches, well-being, and teacher burnout. Teachers can choose topics of interest from these areas. They set two objectives annually: one relating to personal and social development (well-being, managing psychological challenges, parent communication, interactions with problematic students), and the other tied to their field-specific training, aimed at keeping abreast of new and contemporary methodologies.
Furthermore, another element is that educated and highly motivated teachers tend to possess robust work capacity. They augment their competencies through activities like peer visits; returning from training, they share insights and newfound knowledge with their colleagues.
From my perspective, both as an educator and principal, a teacher's work ability primarily hinges on their willingness to continually embrace learning, their attitude, and their mindset. And this isn't solely linked to age. There are young individuals who may exhibit a lack of interest, just as there are older individuals who remain enthusiastic learners. Thus, in my view, work capacity is profoundly influenced by individual personality traits.
At our school, an emphasis is placed on continuous education for all staff members. My goal is to propel the school forward, while simultaneously preventing teacher burnout and fostering healthy communication with parents, among other factors.
Have you had any recent experiences that prompted you to seek support or professional development?
Personally, I recently participated in a principal burnout program. Last year, a series of challenges prompted me to question whether I needed to undertake this endeavour. I felt compelled to address certain internal matters. I was particularly heartened by the realisation that all principals share comparable experiences; it's not a singular tragedy. It's akin to any profession — there are periods of highs and lows. This reality applies to teachers as well.
Did that course help you overcome those challenges?
To a great extent, I managed to navigate the challenges myself. I possess a strong constitution and can often find solutions independently. However, the training proved beneficial, especially in fostering connections with other principals who share similar challenges. That's what has been most supportive for me. I hold a keen interest in the latest developments within educational psychology. Over my five years in this role, I've acquired a substantial amount of knowledge in management psychology, which previously might have taken me five hours to comprehend, but now takes significantly less time. Currently, my main focus centers around cultivating a sense of belonging among teachers and staff members, making them feel integral to the school.
Do you perceive a decline in teachers' work capability due to diminishing physical strength?
I don't believe teachers bring their personal concerns into the classroom. When we step into the classroom, we can set aside our personal worries, as the teaching environment tends to invigorate us. Our staff members here are deeply passionate about their profession. Personally, I find teaching to be a relaxing experience. Consequently, I don't observe age-related physical limitations among my colleagues. What can occasionally cause concern is when there are school-related issues that necessitate addressing in a formal manner. These situations can significantly impact our performance.